Gethin Watts has been appointed WRU National Performance Manager, taking charge of National and regional Age Grade Academy programmes, with four other appointments now in place to bolster the performance elements of Welsh rugby.
Gethin is a valuable, key member of the team and this new role is essential to the development of the National Age Grade strategic plans
Watts will be responsible for the development, delivery and management of the National Academy, with a focus on player identification, development and the fulfilment of potential across the performance end of the game.
The role has been created to enhance the National Academy strategy, including the delivery of the regional and national Age Grade programmes. Watts will work closely with the Head of Rugby Joe Lydon, newly appointed National Academy Coaching Manager Allan Lewis, National Squad staff, WRU regionally based performance managers, as well as all other key programme partners including Schools, Colleges, Students and Clubs.
Head of Rugby Joe Lydon said: "Gethin is a valuable, key member of the team and this new role is essential to the development of the National Age Grade strategic plans.
"Gethin will help ensure the relevant management and monitoring programmes are in place to support players within the systems at both national and regional levels. A key area of the work will be to maximise player potential within the national succession plan working in partnership with all relevant stakeholders within the performance pathway programmes.
"Gethin's previous experience as a Regional Performance Programme Manager is of huge benefit as he's very aware of the operational systems in place as well as our collective aims and objectives within Welsh Rugby."
In addition and to compliment Gethin Watts' appointment, Richard Hodges has been appointed to the position of regionally based Performance Programme Manager (Blues Region) and James Chapron will take up the position of Performance Programme Manager (Dragons Region). These two additional appointments see the creation of two regional Development Manager vacancies in the Blues and Dragons region respectively.
Further changes to existing WRU staff roles and responsibilities see Byron Hayward appointed as National Skills Coach within the Dragons region and Will Thomas moving to Rugby Compliance Manager.
The Welsh Rugby Union is forming a new Youth Board with a brief to help keep more young people involved in the game during their late teenage years and beyond. The first task of the fifteen strong Board will be to analyse and consider the issues which lead to a number of youngsters drifting away from the sport between the ages of 16 and 21. To apply visit www.wru.wales/youthboard
The Foster's Challenge Cup will involve the 12 Principality Premiership sides and will run during European and British & Irish Cup weeks, providing vital fixtures for the participating clubs and an opportunity for upcoming players to step up to semi-professional rugby and make a claim for starting places within the Premiership squads.
Eighty schools and colleges in Wales now have a full time rugby officer as part of the WRU's school club hub scheme. All of the school club hub officers recently gathered at the National Centre of Excellence for various workshops.
With Liam Williams forced out of the World Cup through injury, lock Luke Charteris and Skills Coach Neil Jenkins say they have to put yesterday's defeat behind them as Wales now look ahead to another physical encounter against South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.
WRU Consultant Head of Physical Performance Paul Stridgeon praises the Physical Performance department for their work and dedication as he addresses the media ahead of Wales' Pool A clash against Australia
Twelve young people have been selected to follow a one year WRU Coach Core apprenticeship programme. Coach Core was set up by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as part of the Olympics legacy in 2012 and the Duke of Cambridge was on hand to meet the apprentices on their first day in the job. The programme has been funded by the Hunter Foundation.
The WRU has launched a campaign to create a long term legacy for Welsh club rugby by highlighting the advantages of volunteering. Rhian Edwards, a volunteer at Seven Sisters, has enjoyed many benefits of her volunteering at a grassroots rugby club including being part of the Rugby World Cup volunteer workforce after being nominated by the WRU - and the WRU is asking for more people to develop their 'Welsh rugby roots'.